Books Received | Published:

The British Warblers: a History, with Problems of their Lives

Nature volume 96, pages 616617 (03 February 1916) | Download Citation



“IT is almost impossible to study systematically any species, no matter how common, without continually adding to our store of knowledge and noticing new facts; and such facts may lead to the solution of problems connected with the mystery of life and the greater mystery of development.” This sentence of Mr. Howard's may seem trite enough; but it comes not amiss to British ornithologists, whose energies have been mainly occupied with the classification and distribution of species and with the discovery of new subspecies or local varieties rather than with biological questions. Mr. Howard's work, which has been coming out in parts since 1907, has certain decided advantages in comparison with its predecessors, though it deals only with a few species, and biologically only with about a dozen. First, it is the result of most persevering watching, mainly at that time of the day when birds are more full of life than at any other—the hours immediately following sunrise—and at the time of year when, from a biological point of view, they are best worth watching, i.e. the months from their arrival in this country to the end of the breeding season. It is true that we have to depend as yet largely on Mr. Howard's evidence alone. But that evidence is, to my ornithological feeling, not only to be trusted with confidence, but extremely stimulating; and as soon as the war is over we shall have numbers of good observers ready to spend their early hours in the woods as Vigilantly as in the trenches.

Access optionsAccess options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.

About this article

Publication history




  1. Search for W. WARDE FOWLER in:


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.

Newsletter Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing